Boys basketball: Black Eagles find strength in numbers
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Some teams play behind the strength of a single star or two, but those who rely upon depth as South Charleston can win no matter the combination of contributors.
This season, senior guard Ra'Shaud Kincaid and rising sophomore A.D. Cunningham have helped to propel the Black Eagles boys basketball team to Class AAA's No. 1 ranking and a 15-1 record. The standouts are plenty capable of winning on their talent alone, but it's the success of South Charleston's other players - starters and reserves - that have the Black Eagles eyeing the state title.
"This team, we're a big family," Kincaid said. "Everybody contributes. We don't care who scores or how many points a player has. We go out and try to play as a team. The depth of our team is very good. Everybody can come in and play everybody's role. It's great."
Kincaid paced SC with 15 points in the team's 56-45 victory against Winfield Thursday, with Cunningham posting 12 points.
Without the balanced and meaningful contributions of their teammates, the duo would have faced a much more arduous task.
The Black Eagles boast seven seniors, so experience is plentiful, senior guard Devyn Harris said.
"Coach, he always says we can start a new five every single game," he said. "Our players coming off the bench, they're just as strong as the starting five, and any given night we can play anybody. We know that even our bench will be ready to go and step up."
Harris, a starter, represents one of the team's most dependable scorers. Though he finished with just seven points against Winfield, he produced four rebounds, three steals and three assists.
Off the bench, senior forwards Trevond Reese and Kevin Williams posted solid numbers as did senior starter Hunter Moles.
Coach Vic Herbert cited contributions of both starters and reserves that carried SC to victory against Winfield.
"I'll tell you who stepped up really big for us, there's three guys that stand out to me," he said. "Trevond Reese, man he played well. Hunter Moles did a great job on the glass. Ra'Shaud Kincaid, our leader, did a good job of getting things calmed down when we needed to get calmed down, and Kevin Williams. Those guys were really, really good for us. I was proud of all of them."
Williams entered from the bench to finish with a team-high six rebounds to go with four points.
Meanwhile, Reese spelled starter Neal Brown for much of the game and made the most of his time with eight points, five steals and three rebounds.
Herbert said he gives credit to the attitude of his players like Brown, who may sit as other players enter.
"They're unselfish kids," he said, "just like Neal Brown gets 22, 23 minutes a game, but (Thursday), he probably got 12 to 14, but he's happy as all get out out there, because his team won. The unselfishness of this group has been the best I've ever seen since I've been coaching, just the most unselfish bunch that I've been around."
With Reese and Williams in the game, SC doesn't lose a step offensively as the pair work the interior, Herbert said.
"Plus (with) their speed and quickness, we don't really lose anything defensively when they go in," he said. "We actually probably pick up a little bit rebounding wise when they're both in the game together."
Herbert added his bench includes even more players who can add meaningful minutes, though the opportunity didn't present itself Thursday.
"We got guys that didn't get in the game tonight that I wouldn't be afraid of putting in under fire," he said. "Tre Clark has played a lot this year. Kentre Grier, my freshman, along with (Brandon) Knapper, my other freshman, those guys can play.
"It's just that we're loaded with seniors who have been with me for four years and just have all that experience. They're as talented as those seniors, but they just haven't had the time in the program to develop yet, but their time will come. Their time will come certainly."
For now, the Black Eagles know their time to win is here thanks to team attitude and depth.
"Even when the starters come off the floor, we have a man on the bench that can do his job, if not even better," Williams said.
Win as one, not with one. That strength should pay dividends as SC marches toward the State Tournament once again.